It almost felt like I was immersed in a major report on Spiegel TV. “The largest ships in the world”, or “Gastronomy and gigantomania on the high seas”, could be the titles. Normally, guests do not have access here, the view so far behind the scenes on board such a large cruise ship is usually denied. I’m all the more excited when I step onto the single escalator that leads me swiftly down to deck 3.
The Main Galley is the main galley on the Costa Favolosa. About 85% of all meals for the nearly 4,000 guests and 1,500 employees are prepared here. Every day, that’s well over 20,000 dishes, explains Ettore Costa, the Costa Group’s Food & Beverage Director. Together with him and chef Guinaro Balzano, I walk through the surprisingly large kitchen.
With 200 employees, the Food & Beverage division is the strongest department on Costa Crociere ships. Our ship for this voyage towards Norway has 13 guest decks with a total of 1508 cabins as well as 5 restaurants and 13 bars. Of course, I did not miss the opportunity to take a closer look at all the restaurants.
The restaurants on board the Costa Favolosa
On decks four and five are the two main restaurants, Duca d’Orléans and Duca di Borgogna, at the bow and stern of the ship, respectively. In the evening, a four-course à la carte menu is served in two courses in these large and opulently decorated restaurants. The guest can choose between two antipasti, primi and secondi dishes and desserts. The theme changes every evening and revolves around different regions of Italy.
In the buffet restaurant Ca’ d’Oro you can have meals almost around the clock. In addition to breakfast and lunch, the numerous stations also cook and sizzle for dinner. Especially on sea days, it can get quite crowded here at lunchtime, so it is advisable to switch to one of the other restaurants.
The Club Favolosa Restaurant is one of the culinary highlights. Here, too, the menu can be combined á la carte. The open design not only gives you a wonderful view of the sea, but also into a small kitchen where some dishes are prepared or finalized. The Club Restaurant is primarily designed for Suite guests, but can also be booked on a regular basis for an additional charge.
Sophisticated cuisine under the motto Pacific Fusion is offered by the Samsara Restaurant. The influences range from Asian to South American cuisine, each combined with Mediterranean aspects. And that works really well. The dishes are quite daring both in the combination of products, especially there are some courses on the menu that are actually spicy. Just as in the Club Restaurant, the compact size is very pleasant in between and allows the guest to retreat from the hustle and bustle of life on board.
In addition, there is a pizza restaurant and a burger restaurant, which I also visited. In particular, the pizza made according to Neapolitan recipes and with a dough that lasts 24 hours, is really successful. In general, it is often the supposedly simple things that succeed extremely well. I have already noted this in my report on the great Bruno Barbieri menu for the various pasta preparations on board.
Common to all restaurants is the Slow Food principle, which I can also see in the kitchen during my visit. Because in fact everything is cooked fresh, all funds and broths are prepared by hand. For fish, meat and poultry there are small kitchens and butcher shops where the basic products are prepared. Special mention should also be made of its own mozzarella production on the ship. Small cheese balls of various sizes are freshly prepared daily, as well as large burrata and mozzarella rolls. Depending on the planned use, these are made from cow or buffalo milk or a combination.
Even further below deck, I also get to look at the huge warehouses that are filled every time the main port is approached. Vegetables, fruit, sausage, cheese, drinks, dry products: There are huge quantities that are stowed here. But, it’s just always the basic products, all the preparation takes place on board. This is certainly also an advantage of Italian cuisine, as Executive Chef Guinaro Balzano explains to me. The recipes are simple. It doesn’t take many ingredients, not quite a few steps. What always counts and is the most important is the best starting products. Whether it is the San Marzano tomatoes from Campania, the old Parmesan cheese from Modena or even fish or meat. The preparation follows Carlo Petrini’s Slow Food maxim: Buono, pulito e giusto – good, clean and fair. If one of these elements is missing, it is not Slow Food.
But perhaps the most important aspect on board is not first and foremost the taste. Especially on a ship of this size and with the huge amount of meals prepared, absolute compliance with all hygiene regulations is paramount. You simply cannot afford to make a mistake here. Accordingly, all the stations I was able to look at look like they’ve been licked.
The highlight of my numerous visits was the big defilee on the last evening: I was allowed to be there live when the first dishes were sent to the main restaurants from the large pass that surrounds the huge kitchen in a U-shape. Thematically and spatially divided into antipasti, primi and secondi, the plates are made ready, covered with a hood and transported down the escalator into the restaurant. There the plates change hands and are brought to the place from the cellars. For better coordination, there are individual employees who coordinate the steady flow.
The patisserie is staffed with a total of 12 people. Chef pastry chef Alessandro I can look over his shoulder during the final steps of preparing Sicilian cannoli. His area of responsibility also includes the production of bread and pastries on board.
By the way, a very special service that I have used several times is the breakfast in the cabin. At the pre-selected time, cappuccino, freshly squeezed orange juice, omelets, pancakes or an Egg Benedict are brought to the cabin. An ideal way to start the day quietly…
Our trip was supported by Costa Crociere S.p.A.. This has no influence on the type and scope of reporting.